How to Kickstart Your Creativity, Without a Computer

John Reeve | March 31st, 2014 | , , , , , ,

Kickstarting your creativity without a computer

“Man is a slow, sloppy, and brilliant thinker; computers are fast, accurate, and stupid.”

― John Pfeiffer

Every web designer I know, including myself, has experienced an utter absence of creativity at the time it is needed most. A deadline is coming up in a few hours, or 5pm is minutes away, and we are stuck. The creative mind has its ebbs and flows. But the tide metaphor stops there. Unlike the tide, creativity is not predictable.

When the creative mind stops working, don’t count all your time as lost. There are a few things you can do to kickstart your creativity.

The first thing you need to do is step away from the computer. Computers are tools. They can not create ideas or solve abstract problems. Their primary role in the creative process is to execute ideas with unparalleled precision. Before we can turn to the computer, we need to go completely analog.

Start sketching

The sketching process — pencil on paper — engages the creative side of the brain in a way that a keyboard and mouse simply cannot. Sketching out ideas onto paper allows you to quickly explore an idea from several different perspectives. There are very few limitations and fewer distractions to prevent a good idea from escaping your brain.

And it’s portable. A pencil and paper can go anywhere with you. Go draw in the other room, or at the corner coffee shop. Sometimes, a change of venue is all you need to get the ideas going again.

Go outside

Whether you live in the city or the country, get outside and stop thinking about your current creative project. Let it go. When we are exposed to the linear nature of architecture, or the abstract, organic outdoors, our minds soak it all in. Our surroundings are capable of engaging all our senses, and will influence our creative ideas in ways we can not quantify.

I love the city as much as I do the mountains and I have found equal inspiration exploring both.  Wandering through crowded cities and empty forests has sparked some of my best ideas. But you have to be open to them.

Visit a museum

Get inspired by some of your peers, both past and present. Museums hold the works of our most well known artists and are the best way to get exposed to a lot of different creative ideas at once.

Sure, you could do a Google image search and shuffle through hundreds of photos in a few short minutes. But that sort of exercise doesn’t compare to standing in front of the original artwork, noticing the brush strokes, or the indentations the pencil made in the paper. Try to get inside the mind of the artist and you will notice your own mind loosening it’s grip on your shackled creativity.

Brainstorm methodically

There are brainstorming exercises designed specifically to unearth your most useful ideas in the shortest amount of time possible. Find some methods that fit your creative approach and use them. Brainstorming exercises may seem unappealing and rote, but they work.

Many of the world’s largest creative agencies, who are coming up with brilliant ideas day after day, use similar brainstorming exercises to reach their highest creative potential. So should you.

Photo credit: r. nial bradshaw

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Intervals Blog

A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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